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51 Dark Peak

Dark Peak Location

The Dark Peak is the higher, wilder northern part of the Peak District in England, mainly in Derbyshire and South Yorkshire. It covers the higher Derbyshire peaks north of Hope Valley as well as the Eastern Moors that stretch south towards Matlock and are bounded by gritstone edges. The northern area of the Dark Peak is dominated by three great plateaus of gritstone and peat, the highest being Kinder Scout at 636m, followed by Bleaklow at 633m, and Black Hill at 582m

Dark Peak Characteristics

It gets its name because the underlying limestone is covered by a cap of Millstone Grit, which means that in winter the soil is almost always saturated with water. The land is thus largely uninhabited moorland plateaux where almost any depression is filled with sphagnum bogs and black peat. It’s a landscape of large-scale sweeping moorlands, in-bye pastures enclosed by drystone walls, and gritstone settlements. The area supports internationally important mosaics of habitats including blanket bog, upland heathland, upland oak woodland and hay meadows, and these, in turn, support a number of rare species including birds such as
merlin, short-eared owl, twite and golden plover.

The predominantly peat soils also provide other significant benefits, when in good condition, by storing significant volumes of carbon and water. With its high rainfall and impervious rocks, it is an important area for water supply, with many reservoirs supplying water to nearby conurbations.

Dark Peak Challenges & Restoration

Future challenges for the area include the management of water and flooding, the restoration of blanket bog, the restoration and continued management of species-rich grassland, and an increase in native woodland
cover especially on steep valley sides.

Individual landowners and managers in the Peak District realised that the problem of moorland erosion could not be tackled by one organisation alone and in February 2003 the Moors for the Future Partnership was formed. Since 2003, Moors for the Future have been working to reverse more than 200 years of damage that left large areas of these uplands bare of vegetation. Their work has included stabilising bare peat, blocking erosion gullies (groughs) with dams, increasing diversity, reintroducing sphagnum moss, and creating clough woodlands.

* Information collated from various sources, namely Wikipedia, Natural England, and Moors for the Future.

NCA Map:

For further information about this National Character Area, visit the Natural England website

Routes that include this NCA: